Thoughts on the Bourke St Incident

Four people were killed in the city yesterday. According to different reports, anywhere between twenty and thirty one were injured (according to most recent reports). Of those injured, one is an infant child, currently fighting for life in hospital. That is over twenty lives that were seriously affected by the actions of one man, not including all the relatives and friends of those killed or injured. One man. A man who, for whatever reason, decided to drive down the middle of Bourke St Mall during a busy Friday afternoon, and intentionally run down pedestrians in his car.

I really don’t know what to say. I can’t get in the mindset of someone who would do something like that. Of someone who would act with such reckless abandon, and obvious intent to cause injury.

Anyone who ever insists that one person is incapable of having an impact needs to read the newspaper. A single person has caused death, injury and destruction. The actions of one man affected the public transport system, the day to day lives of countless people who live and work in the city, the Friday afternoon trade. One man is solely responsible for widespread panic and is the embodiment of deep seated fear. Yes, one person can make a difference. But no one said that difference always has to be a good thing.

I got a number of messages and calls yesterday to make sure I was ok. Even some people I don’t know particularly well checked in, and I thought that was really sweet. In the face of tragedy, it’s comforting to know that there are still good people in the world. I work a few streets up from the mall, safely underground and far from dangerous drivers with malicious intent, but I still appreciated that people took the time to check and make sure I was safe.

I really don’t know what else to say, except to tell you to stay safe. The world is a big, crazy, and often dangerous place. And it’s after events like this that we need to stop and remember how fortunate we are. If nothing else, tell someone you love them today. Hug your friend. Kiss your partner long and deep, and mean it. Just…be kind to one another.

Save the Palace Theatre

Oftentimes my blogs are a tad rambling and more than a touch negative, but they’re usually just my thoughts on certain generic things. This time, on a much more serious note than usual, I would very much like to talk about an issue that is incredibly important to me, and to over 25,000 other people. (Look at me, getting all involved in current affairs.)

We all love live music. There’s a certain atmosphere to it; all those people who may have nothing else in common, coming together in mutual love of music and to headbang to the songs of their favourite bands. There’s something about feeling the bass thump in your chest, yell-singing out the lyrics to your favourite songs and fist pumping in the mosh with a crowd of other music fans that is indescribably amazing. Live music gigs are about the only times I am comfortable in large crowds and that is because all anxieties and (most) animosities are sung and air punched out in the (literal) heat of the moment. The last gig I went to was just last week, when I went with a friend to see Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus. On a side note, those two bands are the reason we started talking and I found it rather poetic that the bands we bonded over ended up being the first live gig we ever went to together. The opening night of the tour and the show we attended was held at the Palace Theatre on Bourke St in Melbourne.

And here is where that issue I was talking about comes in; the proposed development of the Palace Theatre site. In June of 2012, it was revealed that the site had been sold to Chinese property investment firm, Jinshan Investments, who planned to tear down the Palace and replace it with a complex of apartment buildings and hotel rooms. Now, I don’t know a lot about the economy or anything even remotely political but to me, there’s something wrong with tearing down that building and replacing it with something else. Especially something as metaphorically cold and impersonal as a hotel. Hotels are everywhere but the Palace is one of a kind.

The current building was opened in 1912, after the Douglas Theatre, which had occupied the site since 1860, was destroyed by a fire in 1911. The building has stood there for over one hundred years. Though going through a series of different names since it was built, it was renamed the Palace Theatre in 2007 and has since become one of Melbourne’s most popular live entertainment venues, literally hosting hundreds of acts each year. In addition to the old school charm and atmosphere of the building, the venue is iconic to Melbourne. Tearing it down is not only an affront to the live music scene, it is destroying something that is as much a part of Melbourne as the Melbourne Athenaeum Theatre or the Flinders Street Station.

I have been to three gigs at the Palace since 2011, twice to see Anberlin and the third time so see Karnivool and DLC last week, as I mentioned earlier. The multilevel structure has charm, character and a distinct, impossible to replicate environment. To lose such a cultural and musical icon to some generic hotel would be a shame. For everyone who has seen live music at the Palace or even people who just don’t want to see a boring modern change to the historic Bourke St precinct, I urge you to sign the petition and save the Palace Theatre.

For those interested and willing, I’ve posted the link below for your convenience. And seriously guys, if I can get involved in something, then surely you can too.